“What’s the strongest indicator that my relationship will last?”
I hear this a lot in session. And as a person married for 15 years, I’ve spent many hours in the weeds pondering this myself...
We all have assumptions. “If they really get me”, “if we have good sex at least a few times a month”, “if our communication is strong”, “if our values align really well”, “if we have lots in common”.
But honestly, the most important factor for success in a long-term relationship is the ability to continue growing, changing, and evolving towards the person you want to be throughout your time in said relationship. This may mean creative growth, spiritual exploration, entrepreneurial pursuits, a penchant for adventure, hobbies for days, curious wanderings. Growth = what makes you feel whole and alive. And these aren’t necessarily pursuits to be engaged in as a couple. I’m talking personal evolution and the support from your partner to continue on a growth path.
It’s so easy to feel selfish for wanting to prioritize our interests and self-care. But alas, the ship will sink if we’re constantly operating from a place of needing permission to care for our minds or bodies - permission from our partners, our children, our bosses. We need permission from ourselves, and we need an understanding that our significant other can handle the weight of our momentary absence while we write for a bit, or go on a hike, or draw, or read, or research a new business idea, or meet up with friends for a drink.
21st century living often feels like a crazy set-up for failure. Parenting, working, domesticating, and partnering at a warp speed that’s impossible to balance well. I so understand the very normal (and very annoying) tit-for-tat that often seeps into marriages/partnerships. The spoken and unspoken nuances related to who does what, when, how often, and next time. And this little dance is what usually stops us from our growth pursuits. It’s what makes us feel guilty for taking that hour to ourselves. And it’s the yuckiness that unintentionally sets-in between partners. None of us wants to believe we’re a joy-kill or a stop-sign preventing our loved one from pursuing their passion. But we’re all vulnerable to this dynamic. Creating a culture at home that gives "permission to pursue" serves a partnership so very well. And it can make the joining-together moments that much sweeter.